HardReviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Below The Belt
(Bad Taste)

Man, you just know it. Whether you're on board as a fan or not (and there's more cramming into the club every day), no band on the planet sounds like Danko Jones. I mean, top to bottom, there's an excitement and rowdiness and urge to purge that comes from all corners like Chinese throwing darts. Driving these punchy punk metal rockers is one of the boldest rhythm sections around, namely drummer Dan Cornelius and bassist John Calabrese, who gets a killer sound, useful in the spaces Danko regularly leaves for punctuation and spitting out words to the effect of something better change. And yeah, so then there's Danko, with his wacky enunciation of lyrics designed to shake up your life, get you out that door, which is directly what 'Magic Snake' is about, come to think about it. Weird, but it's like these guys exploit everything good about being a power trio, one of those characteristics being the idea that there can be no slackers, so everybody better bring their A-game, or at least be prepared to chug some Red Bulls if they're hungover. Second, there's a rising to the challenge of shaping simplicity into fresh origamis, like with 'Full Of Regret' with its 'You Fool No One' rhythm bed, its Sons Of Freedom bass clang, and a vocal out of Danko that is a high-stung handful - yeesh, no wonder it's the first single. And speaking of Sons Of Freedom, Danko's simpler songs, like 'The Sore Loser' capture the blasted stomping magic of that lost Vancouver heroin band. But too many of the simpler songs I can do without ('Like Dynamite' is a bit under-written like old corporate Danko; '(I Can't Handle) Moderation' too power punk). Fortunately, these guys, like I say, are looking for ways to make each other sweat, faves being the smooth, groovy Four Horsemen metal of 'Tonight Is Fine' and the driving wall of guitars that is 'Had Enough'. The endgame (game, Jones) is a buzzy, fizzy, foamy excitement, Danko eliciting the same sort of life-coached response people once had to Rocket From The Crypt and more recently Volbeat.
Rating 8.5